Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development

The cost of genome sequencing has fallen one-million fold in the past several years. The technology is widely accessible and it is now inexpensive to quickly produce genome sequence information for large numbers of individuals. A ‘genomics revolution’ is underway, which is transforming the life sciences, including biomedicine and animal and plant breeding.

The UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on post-2015 development goals has recently called for “a New Data Revolution” for sustainable development. However, genomic data does not squarely fit within the narrow statistical focus described by the Panel. Critical gaps concerning the governance of genomics data need to be filled for the promotion of science as a global public good. Main focus of the brief is on plant breeding, but similar cases can be made for animal breeding and (human) biomedicine.

Read the full brief below and share your comments.
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5934Thinking%20a%20global%20open%20genome%20sequence%20data%20framework%20for%20sustainable%20development.pdf

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19 thoughts on “Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development

  1. ScottJ

    Norman, Thanks for starting this discussion and moving this forward. As a participant of DivSeek, I’m excited by the opportunities and how the free exchange of genomic data and advance agricultural development.

    Reply
  2. Karl Schmid

    This is an important proposal that needs to be strongly supported. An open source license should be the standard license for all public projects characterizing public gene bank material. Be aware, however, that there are different types of open source (software) licenses and it will be necessary to think about their implications.

    Reply
    1. Norman Warthmann

      Dear Karl, thank you very much for your support. In the Annex to our proposal we make a concrete suggestion on the wording of the license in which copyleft is our guiding principle.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: UN Urged to Ensure Open Plant Genomes - SeedWorld

  4. George Wang

    A common, open license for generic data is more important now than ever. Balkanization of genetic data under a myriad of licenses will impede and prevent the grnetic analyses that are the brightest hope for new solutions to increasing crop yields, climactic tolerance, and nutrition.

    Reply
  5. Beth Rowan

    I have long been in favor of open source public licenses for scientific knowledge because I believe that this encourages innovation. This is especially true for our banked germplasm stocks. What do we need to do to support this further?

    Reply
  6. David Steane

    I have been suggesting something similar for livestock and would really want to see the scheme widened to cover AnGR not just PGR. However I also consider that such genomic sequencing would only be of major value if accompanied by detailed descriptors of the environment in which the genome is normally found as this would enable a study of potential linkages (I am aware that FAO has a draft of Production Environment Descriptors (PEDs) for livestock breeds but it is not yet operational ).

    Reply
    1. Norman Warthmann

      Dear David Steane, thank you for your message. We are on the very same page. Information sharing will enable learning across studies, gaining power to disentangle genotype-phenotype-environment/agronomic practice interactions.

      Reply
  7. Kelton Welch

    It wasn’t entirely clear to me what all would be covered by this proposal. For example, would this include the transgenic sequences used to make insect-resistant and glyphosate-resistant GMO crops?

    Reply
    1. Norman Warthmann

      Dear Kelton Welch, it covers the DNA (genome) sequences of any Plant Genetic Resource in the multi-lateral system and, by nature of the copyleft license, the entire DNA (genome) sequence of descendants thereof, including transgenics.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Open Source Model In Computers Should Be Applied To Genomic Data, Paper Says

    1. Norman Warthmann

      Dear men_somerville, no, the above proposition does not affect seed stocks in farmers hands. It is simply calling for the free exchange of information on Plant Genetic Resources already in the multilateral system through international gene banks.

      Reply
  9. Pingback: UN urged to ensure open access to plant genomes | Times of News | Online breaking and Latest News From RUSSIA

  10. Justin Borevitz

    Opening the worlds germplasm collections to digital genome search would allow powerful genetic combinations to be selected. This digital domestication would be available to all.

    Reply
  11. Mohamed Elyes Kchouk

    Thank you for this initiative. It may be worth to add that ecosystem management has also consequences on sustainable development. This falls into the concept of “genes-to-ecosystems” and genetic links established between species, communities and ecosystem are valuable information for ecosystem restoration especially to mitigate rapidly climate change future disasters. UN should lead this kind of information system for ecosystem management, restoration and sustainability.

    Reply
  12. Axel Künstner

    Very good inititive. Generally, genome sequences should be publicly available. It is potentially the best way to make the most out of it and to boost research.

    Reply
  13. Christina Zdenek

    The world certainly needs a solution to abate the immoral and pervasive actions of Monsanto and the likes. I am not an expert in this particular field, but the concept proposed here appears as though it could very well work. And if it does work, such a timely licensing and positive policy change probably should be implemented worldwide.

    Reply

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